Four of the top 75 prospects in minor league baseball now play for the Curve, an impressive collection of talent unrivaled in franchise history.
There's no telling how many - if any - of the four will live up to their potential, but putting them all together on the same team certainly will make for an interesting final month of the season.
The newest member of the Curve is right-hander Tim Alderson, a 20-year-old acquired from the Giants on Wednesday in the Freddy Sanchez trade. He had been pitching at Double-A Connecticut in the Eastern League and will arrive in Altoona this afternoon.
Alderson was rated as Baseball America's No. 45 prospect entering the season. He joins third baseman Pedro Alvarez (No. 12) and outfielders Gorkys Hernandez (No. 62) and Jose Tabata (No. 75) to give the Curve a formidable foursome of prospects.
Add those guys to the promising Single-A pitchers acquired in recent trades, and it provides hope that the players we will be seeing at Blair County Ballpark both in the short term and for the next couple of years actually could be part of the Pirates' long-awaited rise from the dead.
That's not even including Brad Lincoln, who excelled with the Curve earlier this season before heading to Triple-A, or former first-round pick Daniel Moskos, who still has good potential despite the fact that he is not Matt Wieters.
Tonight: The Curve and Binghamton were rained out Wednesday at BCB and will play a doubleheader today at 5:05 p.m.
Pitching matchups: Curve LHP Daniel Moskos (7-8, 3.90) and LHP Kyle Bloom (4-5, 3.54) vs. B-Mets LHP Eric Niesen (1-5, 7.36) and LHP Mike Antonini (5-3, 5.99)
Here's a closer look at each of the Curve's four elite prospects:
SUBHD: RHP Tim Alderson
He was the 22nd overall pick in the 2007 draft out of high school and has the potential to be a frontline starter in the major leagues.
He had better be, too, or else the Pirates will have gotten ripped off in a straight-up trade for former National League batting champ Sanchez.
Alderson, who's 6-foot-6 with good offspeed stuff, has been outstanding in his brief pro career, compiling a 20-6 record and 3.07 ERA in 47 games (46 starts). He has 202 strikeouts to just 51 walks in 249 innings.
Alderson was called up to Connecticut in early May and went 6-1 with a 3.47 ERA for the Defenders. His .265 opponents' batting average is a bit high, as are his 76 hits allowed in 72 2/3 innings, but the good ERA proves he knows how to work out of trouble.
SUBHD: 3B Pedro Alvarez
The best prospect in Curve history, and the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, has been crushing the ball of late after a slow start in Double-A.
Alvarez looked bad on countless curveballs upon first joining the Curve, but he has made good adjustments. He's batting .333 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 22 games this month.
Virtually every scout you ask says Alvarez's future is at first base rather than third, so he could be moved there as early as next season.
SUBHD: OF Gorkys Hernandez
He has shown some immaturity with attitude and temper issues, but he's only 21 years old and will learn more about the mental aspects as well as the physical as he develops.
He's hitting .257 with two homers and 16 RBIs for the Curve since coming over from the Braves in the Nate McLouth trade.
Defense and speed are his greatest strengths, but with Andrew McCutchen locked in as Pittsburgh's center fielder of the future, it's tough to see where Hernandez fits in the picture.
SUBHD: OF Jose Tabata
He may be the biggest wild card in this group. He has been on fire at the plate, hitting safely in 23 of his past 26 games, and is batting .306 on the season.
Tabata's lack of power, though, is a concern. He has only two homers and a .410 slugging percentage in 222 at-bats, hardly impressive for a 215-pounder.
He's still only 20 years old, and scouts say the power is always the last thing to develop. But again, with McCutchen in center, Tabata will have to be a corner outfielder in Pittsburgh, so he must hit for power down the line.
If he does, he could be a very good major leaguer. If he doesn't, his career will fall flat in a hurry.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and email@example.com.